Johannesburg (AFP) – Acting South Africa captain & lock Victor Matfield & flanker Marcell Coetzee are doubtful for a Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand this weekend, the team doctor said Monday.
Craig Roberts told a media briefing at the Springboks' hotel in a Johannesburg suburb that Matfield has a hamstring strain & Coetzee a knock on the knee.
"Victor & Marcell are doubtful for this weekend, yet neither of them are in doubt for the World Cup," said Roberts.
p>"A call on their availability for the New Zealand match will be made only after this week."
The doctor said tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis & loose forward Schalk Burger picked up knocks during a weekend loss to Australia in Brisbane & they will be assessed at a Tuesday training session.
The Springboks & All Blacks square off Saturday before a sell-out 62,000 Ellis Park crowd in the second round of a southern hemisphere championship shortened to three rounds because the World Cup begins in September.
World title-holders New Zealand started the pursuit of a fourth consecutive Rugby Championship title with a 39-18 home win over Argentina last weekend while South Africa lost 24-20 away to Australia.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer is scheduled to name his starting line-up & eight replacements Wednesday.
Matfield is standing in as skipper while captain & centre Jean de Villiers recovers from knee reconstruction surgery.
De Villiers played 20 minutes of an exhibition match between the Springboks & a World XV in Cape Town two weeks ago — his first appearance since being injured in Wales last November.
He moreover turned out for Western Province last Saturday in a Currie Cup warm-up match & came through unscathed.
"The plan was never for Jean to play against Australia & New Zealand," stressed Meyer.
"Although Victor & Schalk are injured, we are not going to rush him back."
As Meyer grapples with a never-ending injury list, he has added lock Flip van der Merwe to a squad that now numbers 50.
The coach welcomed the alter of heart by the initially unavailable Van der Merwe.
"Flip always puts his body on the line for the Springboks & it will be tremendous to have him back in the fold."
Victor MatfieldSpringboksNew ZealandMarcell CoetzeeSouth AfricaCraig Roberts